US Department of State Daily Briefing #10: Thursday, 1/16/92

Boucher Source: State Department Deputy Spokesman Richard Boucher Description: Washington, DC Date: Jan, 16 19921/16/92 Category: Briefings Region: Eurasia, MidEast/North Africa, Caribbean, E/C Europe Country: Yugoslavia (former), Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia-Montenegro, Cuba, Haiti, Iraq, Israel, Russia, Georgia, Germany Subject: Democratization, Development/Relief Aid, Arms Control, Nuclear Nonproliferation, State Department, Regional/Civil Unrest, Immigration, Mideast Peace Process, Human Rights 12:34 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MR. BOUCHER: First, I'd like to note a couple of housekeeping things. I think we put up a notice yesterday about credentialing for the Coordinating Conference. We'll be putting up something shortly after this briefing about questions such as C Street -- the lobby, the garage, the elevators. I'm sure you all care about this. This is going to affect all of our lives, and I would encourage everyone to get copies of the notice that we should have in the Press Office very shortly for you. Yesterday, I gave you an update on the discussions that Under Secretary Bartholomew and his team are having in Moscow. If there's any interest, I'd be glad to do that again off the top for you. Barry says no. Q No, no. I'm up to speed.

[Former Soviet Union: Bartholomew Mission Discussions with Russia]

MR. BOUCHER: Somebody else said yes. Under Secretary Bartholomew and his team met this morning with the Russian Foreign Ministry and the general staff to discuss nuclear safety, security, and dismantling. They're meeting again this afternoon with the same group to discuss treaties and non-proliferation issues. Experts on safety, security, and dismantling met last night and this morning. These people are experts from the State, Defense, and Energy Departments. They're meeting with the general staff and with the Ministry of Atomic Power. They're discussing how the authorities in Moscow are going about their programs of removal and dismantling of nuclear weapons and how we can best be of assistance. Another experts group on non-proliferation issues met this morning and will meet again this afternoon. This group is discussing non-proliferation, export controls and arms transfers. Under Secretary Bartholomew will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Kozyrev tomorrow. Bartholomew and his team are planning to go onto Kiev on Saturday morning. They will also visit Minsk and Alma-Ata, but I don't have the schedule of those stops yet. Q Do you know if this team also will be taking up negotiations, pure and simple? In other words, is part of their mission to go beyond START, to talk about further cuts? Pure and simple, negotiating? It doesn't sound like they're talking. MR. BOUCHER: I haven't asked that question to them specifically. Certainly, they have a lot of issues to discuss. I'd just point out that part of this process of the issues of safety, security, and part of the issues of dismantling and the movement of nuclear weapons, those are things that come into play with President Bush's initiative and the response by President Gorbachev last fall, which involved sort of future arms control efforts that both sides would be making. So they're discussing a whole range of issues that impact on the future of nuclear weapons. Q As you said, dismantling and destruction of nuclear weapons are the key priority for this team. Do you have any idea how many -- MR. BOUCHER: We've also emphasized export controls and proliferation issues. Q But in this respect, do you have any idea how many of these weapons would be dismantled and destroyed? MR. BOUCHER: I think I have to leave that for the Russians and the other republics -- the new independent states -- to define. They have had announcements on this question at Alma-Ata and the Minsk meetings, I think. I'm sure that's the information, to the extent that they've made it available. Chris. Q About the American experts learning how they are going about the dismantling of these weapons, have they, in fact -- have the experts, the American experts, been told that actual dismantling has already taken place, that nuclear devices have been destroyed? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know, Chris. Again, I didn't ask that question. I don't know what the answer is. I think at the recent meetings that they have had, they reasserted their intention to carry out the process of moving the tactical nuclear weapons to Russia and to dismantle them there. I think they've said clearly the process was underway. I'm not sure if they've said yet, in any detail, exactly where they are, but that's the kind of thing we expect to be discussing. Q Do you know how far along the process of moving the tactical nuclear weapons back into the Russian republic has progressed? MR. BOUCHER: Again, Bill, that's -- Q There was some representations as long ago as two weeks that it had been all but finished. MR. BOUCHER: Again, Bill, that's something I think I have to leave for them to discuss. Q Richard, do you anticipate -- MR. BOUCHER: Rick. Q Would it be possible, since there are a lot of questions, that we have -- and this is such a big issue -- would it be possible for us to have a Backgrounder with Reg (Bartholomew) when he get back here to ask these questions since he'll have answers -- MR. BOUCHER: We'll put the issue to him, I'm sure. As you know, he just got there yesterday. They hit the ground running. They've been in meetings; they've had experts meeting; they're continuing their meetings. We expect to have more information for you as time goes on. They try to call me every morning. I'll try to ask some of these questions and see if there are answers to them at this point. I'll take your request under advisement and we'll see when Reggie gets back if he can come down and talk to you. Q Is this a good time to ask the Department to capsule its views of the Mideast -- this round? Do you think anything was accomplished, particularly? It looks like you're going to be the host again. MR. BOUCHER: Well, you get into three different questions. Let me try to do them separately. The first on, what time is it? Where are we? Let me run through what I know about meetings. There was a general meeting of the Israeli and joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegations this morning at 8:45. This was followed at 9:30 by a meeting of the Israeli-Jordanian track. The Israeli delegations have told us that they intend to return to Israel this afternoon. We know of no other meetings scheduled today between the parties. We understand the parties are discussing timing of the next round. We've not been informed of any agreements on the resumption of the next meetings or the venue at this point. We are having meetings with various parties and delegation members. I think you've seen on Ambassador Djerejian's schedule that he's meeting with the Jordanians, Lebanese, and the Syrians today. I know of no other meetings like that. And then, finally, let me say that where I think we stand. We think that this round of talks was important and that significant procedural issues were resolved and all of the parties are engaged. As we've said before, the issues to be negotiated are complex and, thus, the negotiations are expected to be tough. The key is to remain on course towards achieving a comprehensive settlement to the Arab-Israeli dispute. The only way to move down this road is for the parties to engage in direct discussions of their differences. That is what they're now doing, and we think that is a significant achievement. Q Richard, another subject. Bonn has complained that unless the other parties to the Coordinating Conference are willing to come up with some serious aid, it would be a waste of time since it currently distributes the vast bulk of the aid to the Soviet Union. Do you have any response? MR. BOUCHER: Bill, Bonn is a pretty good, big place as Washington is a pretty big place. I'm not going to start commenting -- Q Much smaller, actually. MR. BOUCHER: It's bigger than my town. Q It has a river -- MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to get into commenting on unnamed officials, be they German or other. On the general question of assistance, I can review for you what we've expressed before about the conference and the efforts that people are making. Certainly, we appreciate the active role that the Germans have played in the preparations for this meeting next week. As you know -- I think Margaret told you last week -- they were part of the preparatory meeting that we had last Wednesday. As others have as well, they've played an active role in that process. As the Secretary has made clear, the conference is to focus on how to help the people in the new independent states get through this winter and help take the steps necessary to ensure a better situation next winter. The Secretary also has made very clear that many, including Germany and the United States, have done much already, and the conference will help us coordinate our efforts and make all of them more effective. Q Richard, you said before that the conference is not to be a pledging session. And yet there's been a call from several quarters, including Bonn -- somewhere in the city -- for new pledges to help the Soviet Union get through the winter. Is that likely? Do you anticipate that there will be new pledges, new announcements? MR. BOUCHER: I think we'll just have to see what happens when we get there. Q Well, what's it supposed to do? MR. BOUCHER: It's a coordinating conference. It's an effort to pool our ideas, our knowledge, our energies; to look at what we're all doing, to look at how we can make our efforts more effective. Q But what good does that do unless there's more aid forthcoming? MR. BOUCHER: First of all, it makes our efforts more effective. That's the goal of it. I just don't want to go beyond that now. Q Can I go back to the Middle East for a second? Has the United States offered to host the next round of talks in Washington this coming month? Also, do you have anything new vis-a-vis the Palestinian situation and the multilateral talks in Moscow? Are they still on? MR. BOUCHER: The question of the timing of the next round, as I said, is something that's been discussed by the parties. Obviously, we'll stay in touch with the parties as we did between December and January, but they have been discussing these issues and we hope they can work it out. Q What about the invitation to the Palestinians? MR. BOUCHER: Oh, the invitation to the Palestinians? It's more or less where it was yesterday, if I can find the list. The invitation to the multilaterals was delivered here in Washington to the Palestinians. The Palestinians are considering the invitation but have not yet given us a formal reply. Q But in Jerusalem they declined to accept the invitation. MR. BOUCHER: I don't think we've done it again in Jerusalem. Q Right. MR. BOUCHER: We've gone back. As I said, we had a talk with them here yesterday. Q Follow-up again -- sorry. Is the U.S. prepared to host the talks again? What is your position on venue? MR. BOUCHER: Howard, our position on venue is that we're always glad to help out, but that this is an issue that essentially we remain neutral on. We've encouraged them to work out these questions. Q Do you have anything new on Haiti? Q Wait. Do you have anything on the -- just to stay on this. MR. BOUCHER: Just to stay on the Middle East. Is that okay? Q Do you have anything on the domestic political situation in Israel? MR. BOUCHER: No. Q (Laughter) Okay MR. BOUCHER: And I don't expect to -- ever. (Laughter)

[Haiti: Situation Update]

Jan, you were asking about Haiti. I think we put up a review of the political situation yesterday afternoon for you, if you want to know about people and numbers. Q The embargo as well. MR. BOUCHER: At this point the embargo has not changed. I think there was some mention of that in the -- in what we put up yesterday. I know the OAS has said that they would look at the embargo in light of developments. I don't think we have any contention with that. We've said previously that with the restoration of constitutional rule in Haiti, that we would look at the embargo. Q There was some talk late last night that the embargo might be lifted. I was just wondering if you had anything on that. MR. BOUCHER: I don't know who is "some talk," but I wasn't talking at that point. But, in any case, you know, it's something that we keep under review. Q I think it was an AFP report that said that the OAS was considering. MR. BOUCHER: Well, I think the OAS Secretary General, if I remember correctly, said something the other day about -- that as this process proceeded, we'd keep the embargo under review. Q Richard, back to the Coordinating Conference, how many nations were invited, and how many accepted? MR. BOUCHER: At this point that's a question that we haven't answered for a week, and I'm not answering today. Q When will we know the answer, or will we have to compare it when they get here? MR. BOUCHER: I think Margaret has said that we expect to put out a list of attendees around the time of the conference. Q Have any refused, though? Do we know if anybody has said, "We will not come"? MR. BOUCHER: Again, I'm not getting into who's invited and who's coming and who's not, and that sort of stuff. If nations want to say something on their own behalf, they can do that. Q Were there any standards -- Q Some other countries have put out numbers of those invited. MR. BOUCHER: That's fine. Q Would you care to -- MR. BOUCHER: No, I wouldn't. Q -- comment? How about 43? How does that number sound? Or accepted, rather, I mean, so far. MR. BOUCHER: Bill, I'm not here to do numbers on this today. I think we made that very, very clear over the last few days. Q Richard, what would have been -- what were the standards for inviting or not inviting people? Were they people already -- countries already contributing in some fashion; people that had indicated -- I mean, what was -- why were some invited and other countries not? MR. BOUCHER: Rick, it's a shame you haven't been here for the last week while we've been asked these questions. I'm afraid that's a question, too, that we haven't wanted to get into. Margaret said that at the time that we put out the list, if people want to ask us questions about why so and so was not invited, we would explain the standards then. Q I was hoping you might answer today. MR. BOUCHER: I'm hoping I'm not. Howard, and then we'll come back. Q I thought I saw a report on fresh fighting in southern Iraq. Do you have anything on the situation going on there? MR. BOUCHER: I haven't seen that. I'll have to look and see. Q Anything fresh on Yugoslavia? MR. BOUCHER: Johanna has something.

[Former Soviet Union: Reported Return of Georgian President]

Q Yes. I was going to ask you about the situation in Georgia, and whether there was any comment from here about the return of the President? MR. BOUCHER: As for the actual location of Gamsakhurdia, we've seen the press reports that he returned to Georgia yesterday evening. He apparently held a rally in a city called Zugdidi, in which he called on those gathered to march on Tbilisi and declared the beginning of a civil war. Again, that's all from press reports. I do think it's important that we make very, very clear our position all along has been to condemn the use of force, to condemn the use of violence. We've repeatedly stressed that political disputes in Georgia and elsewhere should be resolved peacefully through negotiation and in a manner consistent with internationally recognized human rights principles. We do condemn the use of violence, and we call on all sides to work to halt the overall deterioration in the political life of Georgia. Q Does that mean that -- do I deduce from that, that you're not happy with a call for civil war? MR. BOUCHER: We're never happy with any calls to violence nor with the use of violence. I don't see how a call to civil war -- if, in fact, it was made that way -- could help anybody's followers. Q Richard, I don't know if this will be productive, but let me try anyhow. The State Department has been calling on the negotiators in the Mideast to deal with substance, and unless I misunderstand, these parties threaten to bring down the Israeli Government if the negotiations deal with substance. I mean, you may not want to comment on the political situation in Israel, but isn't the situation such that the negotiations are hamstrung? MR. BOUCHER: Barry -- Q I mean, your statement speaks of procedure. Well, you know, everybody is, I'm sure, delighted that a procedure has been set up, but the procedure is a way of getting at the issues. Now, can they get at the issues? Do you want them to get at the issues? MR. BOUCHER: Barry, you know that we have repeatedly said that we want them to get to the issues. We want them to discuss the substance of the matters there. We've repeatedly urged them to do that from the very beginning. You're right. I'm not going to try to insert myself in the internal political debate within Israel, but it's just -- it's a fact that there was -- there were some differences at the last round that were resolved at this round; that people are talking to each other. The parties are engaged in discussions with each other on the differences between them, and we think that's a positive and important development.

[Cuba: US Residents Under Death Sentence]

Q The Supreme Court in Cuba has upheld the death sentences of two of the three men caught there with weapons last month. Is there a reaction to that and the fact that during the hearing these men said that they had been trained in the United States with the knowledge of the U.S. Government? MR. BOUCHER: To take the last part of your question first, once again I will say that any allegations of U.S. Government involvement are wrong. We have said that -- Q That doesn't speak to the knowledge of the U.S. Government. MR. BOUCHER: I think that's a pretty fine point. But, in any case, we've said that the FBI has opened an investigation into the matter. I'm sure they will be looking into potential violations of the Neutrality Act, and they'll be looking into all this. But I do think it's important to make very clear that the U.S. Government was not involved in any way in this. The Secretary has commented on this in Mexico City, and I'll try to get you a comment -- a copy of his comments. We have noted that the -- and welcome the fact that the Cuban Supreme Court has reduced the death sentence of one of the three exiles. We understand the next step is the Cuban Council of State must consider the sentences, and we would certainly hope that they would decide to spare the lives of the other two men as well. We've made our concerns about these death sentences known to the Cuban Government in both Havana and Washington. Q Anything new on Yugoslavia? MR. BOUCHER: The situation appears to be that the ceasefire is generally continuing to hold. There have been scattered incidents of fighting that continue to occur. Q Has Ambassador Kirkpatrick's commentary in the Monday Post influenced or will it influence U.S. policy towards recognition? MR. BOUCHER: I'm sorry, I didn't read Ambassador Kirkpatrick's commentary, so I certainly couldn't answer that question. Q Did anybody -- MR. BOUCHER: As for the question of recognition, I don't have anything new to say on the subject today. We keep this kind of issue under review, as always in situations like this, and that's where we remain. Q Did anybody from -- Q Is this the first time you said from the podium that it's under review, though, or is it just a phrase that you're imprecise? MR. BOUCHER: It's certainly part of the situation. It's part of what's going on. We always keep this question of recognition as well as all the other developments under review in situations like this. Q Did anybody from the former royal family of Yugoslavia visit the State Department yesterday? MR. BOUCHER: Not that I've heard of. I can double-check. Q Can you check it? MR. BOUCHER: Yes. I'll double-check. Q Richard, about recognition under review, what about the other former Soviet republics that have not been formally recognized -- diplomatic relations? Is that under review? Is something going to happen there? MR. BOUCHER: Again, I think that's something that we've answered in recent days. We put up something yesterday that said we had received a letter from Kyrgystan, which means that from the six that we had asked to have diplomatic relations with, we've received positive replies from all of them. I think we've said before that we were continuing our contacts and engaged with the other republics to discuss these issues with them, and that our policy would be guided by the five principles that we've enunciated, and what they are doing in that regard. Q (Inaudible) I thought there were a couple of outcasts among them. MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to check if it's every single one of them, but certainly the general policy view is the same for all. Q Thank you. MR. BOUCHER: Thank you. (The briefing concluded at 12:55 p.m.)